By Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff
Rocco Mediate’s final-round 71 was good enough for a win in his debut on the Champions Tour. Mediate started on Sunday with a three-stroke lead but found himself tied with Tom Pernice Jr. after 14 holes with Bernhard Langer only one stroke back. The tournament swung in Mediate’s favor at the par-4 17th when Pernice could not get up and down from a greenside bunker, missing an eight-foot par putt. Langer meanwhile, three-putted from 35 feet for bogey. Now with a one-stroke lead, Mediate avoided tree trouble in the 18th fairway and after his second shot ran just through the back of the green on the par-5, he pitched to within two-feet of the hole and tapped in for victory.
• At 50 years, 1 month, 24 days, Rocco Mediate not only became the Allianz Championship’s youngest winner ever, surpassing Tom Lehman (51 years, 11 months, 6 days) in 2011 but he also became the Champions Tour’s youngest winner since Kirk Triplett claimed last year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach just over three months after turning 50.
• Mediate also became the third player in the last five years to make the Allianz Championship his first win on the Champions Tour. Both Mike Goodes (2009) and Corey Pavin (2012) won their only Champions Tour titles at this tournament. Ironically, Mediate’s first of six career victories on the PGA TOUR came in south Florida at the 1991 Doral-Ryder Open. His win at Doral came in his 157th start.
• Mediate became the 16th player in Champions Tour history, and first since Tom Pernice Jr. at the 2009 SAS Championship (3 years, 4 months, 14 days), to win in his debut on the Champions Tour.
A total of six of the 16 players who have won in their debuts on the Champions Tour did so in the state of Florida, including Gary Player who won in his first Champions Tour start at the 1985 Quadel Seniors Classic at nearby Boca Grove Plantation. Here’s a full list of the players to have won their first-ever events on the circuit:
• Mediate’s victory today was his first title since the 2010 Frys.com Open, ending a victory drought of 2 years, 3 months, 24 days.
• Mediate earned 270 Charles Schwab Cup points for today’s victory and his win also qualified him for the 2014 and 2015 season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.
• If past history is any indication, today’s victory bodes well for Rocco Mediate in 2013. Since 2000, only one player who won the first full-field event of the year has failed to finish among the top 30 money-winners (Jerry Pate/2008 Turtle Bay Championship). The 2010 (Bernhard Langer) and 2011 (Tom Lehman) Allianz Championship winners went on to claim Players of the Year that season.
• Bernhard Langer closed out his 2012 Champions Tour season with 14 top-10 finishes over 15 starts (lone blemish a T11 at the Boeing Classic) and he’s now added two more top-10s at the beginning of the 2013 season. Since he finished T17 at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic last March, Langer has registered 38 scores in the 60s over the 56 rounds he’s played in the last 17 appearances and his stroke average is 68.21. Langer finished third in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai last month.
• Langer now has 13 consecutive par/better rounds at the Old Course at Broken Sound. Langer’s stroke average on this course coming into the week was 68.20. Since he finished T17 at last year’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, Langer has 39 scores in the 60s and his stroke average during this span is 68.21.
• Tom Pernice Jr.’s T2 effort this week was his best performance on the Champions Tour since he was second at the 2010 SAS Championship. Pernice, Jr. was making his first appearance in the Allianz Championship. He played only 10 times last year on the Champions Tour due to his fully-exempt status on the 2012 PGA TOUR and his best effort was a T3 at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
• In addition to Mediate, Bart Bryant made his debut on the Champions Tour this week and finished T33. Taiwan’s Chie-Hsaing Lin also made his Champions Tour debut this week and finished T75. Bart Bryant bettered older brother Brad who finished T52 this week.
• Defending champion Corey Pavin made 17 birdies and finished T4. As a result, the Moabery Family Foundation contributed $17,000 to the nonprofit Boca Raton Champions Golf Charities ($1,000 per birdie). Funds raised by this year’s Moabery Family Foundation Defending Champions Challenge are earmarked to benefit Boca Regional’s Toppel Family Place Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Tom Lehman, sponsored by Allianz, also made 17 birdies during the week and his final-round 66 was the best Sunday round. As a result of Lehman’s 17 birdies, $17,000 will go to the South Florida chapter of Junior Achievement and the Southeast Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
• Duffy Waldorf made a nice comeback and posted his best finish on the Champions Tour since being a runner-up to Fred Funk at last fall’s Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. Waldorf was T64 after an opening-round 74, but he closed with rounds of 66-67 on the weekend to vault up into a T6 at the Allianz Championship. Waldorf played his last 36 holes this week in 11-under.
• The Old Course at Broken Sound played almost a stroke harder in the final round than on Saturday (72.296 vs. 71.309). There were just 16 rounds in the 60s today compared to 26 sub-70 scores on Saturday. The overall scoring average for the course this year was 71.593 compared to 72.062 in 2012. Bernhard Langer, Corey Pavin and Mark O’Meara all posted three rounds in the 60s this week. Last year, there were no players with three straight scores in the 60s and in 2011, only champion Tom Lehman recorded three straight sub-70 rounds.
• David Frost’s streak of holes without a three putt ended at No. 6 Sunday, snapping a run of 295 straight holes dating back to last year’s SAS Championship (No. 16/Rd. 2).
• Brad Faxon started the final round with an eagle and four consecutive birdies, the best birdie-eagle streak on the Champions Tour since the 2010 Ensure Classic when Bob Tway had a run of an eagle and four straight birdies in the final round at Rock Barn Golf Club in Hickory. Faxon shot 69 for the round.
• For the second straight year at the Allianz Championship, the winner carded a 71 in the final round. Rocco Mediate’s winning total of 17-under 199 matched the 54-hole scores posted by Bernhard Langer and John Cook in 2010 as the lowest three-round totals in Allianz Championship history. Mediate’s two-stroke victory also matched Mark James (2007) for the largest winning margin.